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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Do I Understand the Bible? - Outline

I don't know about you, but I like variety to keep things fresh and, yes, even meaningful. I'd rather walk outside than on a treadmill, drive an interesting route rather than the fastest one, do something different sometimes just to shake things up. And, I'm the same with studying the Bible. I've been reading and studying the Bible for a long time now and at times it can get (dare I say it?) boring unless I change things up sometimes. That's why I'm suggesting an assortment of Bible study methods, so that whether brand new to the Bible or a long-timer who's gotten a little bored, you'll have some different ideas to choose from.

Most of these ways of studying the Bible are quite simple, yet each of them then deepen your knowledge, understanding, and experience with Scripture.

Today's is Outline.

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher required that we outline our history book for homework and two things happened. First, I discovered that after I had outlined a chapter I could ace the test with almost no additional study. (Loved that one!!) Second, I was drawn to the logical progression and understanding that comes with reducing something to outline form. I am beginning with the assumption that you know how to do a basic outline. (If that's not true for you, feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to explain how it works.)

When outlining the Bible, it is best to outline either a chapter paragraph by paragraph or a book chapter by chapter.

To begin this study, choose a chapter or book (preferably a short one to begin with) that you would like to understand more fully.

Pray. As I've said in the previous Bible Study posts, prayer to ask the the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you is always a crucial part of the process.

Read through the chapter or book for a sense of flow and how it fits together. At this time don't try to outline, just read it carefully to get the big picture of what's being said.

Read it again with an eye to outlining. If you're working through a chapter, give each paragraph a summary title as the main points of your outline. You may want to include key points from the paragraph as your sub-points. If you are outlining a book, give each chapter a summary title and then use your paragraphs as your sub-points.

Outlining is helpful for getting the big picture of the content and structure of a chapter or book.

If you'd like to take this study a Next Step, combine it with Observe and Question to help bring deeper understanding and to apply it to your life.

Suggested chapters:

Psalm 1
Psalm 23
Psalm 46
Matthew 5,6, or 7
Philippians 4

Suggested books:

What is your favorite way to study the Bible? 
What has helped you to keep your Bible study fresh and interesting?

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